Bud Hadley and Steve J. Rich are taking the men’s grooming industry by storm. Based out of Mobile, Alabama, the two Army veterans created Warlord Beard Oil, the homegrown brand behind the grooming product that barbershops just can’t seem to keep on their shelves. Beginning in late 2014, the two men, who were originally in health care, came together to create their first batch of beard oil and founded a colorful brand that would soon spread throughout the region and is now set to go nationwide.
Their logo, created by tattoo artist AJ Ludlow who works at The Bell Rose Tattoo & Piercing in Daphne, Alabama, features a skull in a camo hat with a big, bushy beard accompanied by crossed axes, an American flag, and a “Made in Mobile, Alabama” banner splashed across the front. The image is eye-catching and stands out amongst the other brands that surround it on the shelves. The scents available are also markedly different, coming in smells such as Southern Tobacco, Barbershop, and Aruba. The image paired with the array of distinctive scents makes the brand memorable and definitely leaves an impression.
What had started as a hobby,the Warlord brand has grown into something so much more, offering beard oils and mustache wax with plans to expand, and has completely taken over in Mobile.
Their ads, by Mobile-based agency Red Square, is equally eye-catching. The ads feature big, burly men with giant beards with both (yes, the man and the beard) engaging in manly activities like arm-wrestling and bare-knuckle boxing. The tagline on each image reads “Take care of the beard that takes care of you.” with their logo set squarely in the corner.
The two men had met while working at Providence Hospital in Mobile. Rich had a short beard and was an ICU nurse that had served as a tank mechanic in Desert Storm while Hadley had a bigger beard and was a respiratory therapist that left to work in home health care had served in the army as a medic for 10 years. It was through their similar pasts and beards that the two men found a connection and began doing “beard things.”
At the time, Hadley ordered beard oil online from independent makers, but the two of them decided that they could “not only do it, but do it better,” Hadley said. After experimenting with 100 different formulas, which they had planned to originally only make for family and friends, things began to take off pretty quickly and by Spring 2015, the two men had devised a logo, name, and acquired a business license.
From there, they began to work with hair-care professionals to stock their product in various salons and barbershops. Ronnie Johnson, the owner of Hillcrest Barbers, was one of the first to stock their product. “It’s a great product,” Johnson said. “I don’t push a lot of products. I never have, in 35 years. This product works. It’s really, really good.”
The product is so good, in fact, Johnson says that many women will stop into his shop to pick up a bottle or two for the men in their lives. Let’s face it, the top two reasons guys cut their beards off is because it itches, or their wife makes them,” Hadley said. “We’ve trying to save manhood. We not only want guys to love it, we want the girlfriend and wives and daughters, we want the girls to love it. A lot of our sales has been ladies.”
Rich restocks Johnsons store on a weekly basis, and that’s just one of the locations that currently offers Warlord. Blake Kennedy, the president of State Beauty Supply, a mobile-based wholesaler, got turned on to the beard oil after purchasing a small bottle of it in Johnson’s salon. He loved it so much, he contacted Rich and Hadley in order to get more to stock in his stores. With his help and ability to expose the product in eight-county regions, Warlord is now being sold in about 50 salons and barbershops with plans to distribute nationwide.
A great aspect about the company is that they are part of a web of veteran-owned companies and they offer a 15-percent discount to veterans, military personnel, and law enforcement personnel with plans to do more as their business grows. “It’s a huge network,” Hadley said. “We’ve connected with a ton of veteran-owned companies.”
Check out their beard oil and other products here.